Living on a tight budget can be difficult at the best of times, but it’s especially hard when you need to do your weekly supermarket shopping.
Shopping can cost a fortune each week, and it sometimes seems like a never-ending cycle of “I want to eat healthily but I can’t afford the supermarket prices”.
For those of us in debt, the high cost of living can be even more complicated, especially when there are certain necessities that we just can’t live without, with food being the most important.
Don’t worry! There are many simple changes we can make that will help get the food we need at less cost to our bank balances.
Here are some of the best tried and true methods of supermarket shopping on a budget.
1) Always make a list
It is such an easy thing to do, but up to 70% of us don’t make a shopping list of the items we need.
Often people go into the supermarkets and come out with a large amount of items that they don’t need and didn’t plan to buy. It’s the way the supermarket is wired to mess with our decision-making.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t treat ourselves every so often, but if you have a list of foods to buy, then you can focus your attention whilst in the supermarket, and avoid any extra buy.
This means that you can cut out unnecessary aisles and reduce temptation.
2) Don’t go hungry
Head to the supermarket when you are well-fed and satisfied.
If you go hungry, you will end up buying more items than you really needed, particularly those yummy products that catch your eye.
On the other hand, if you go satisfied, food will tempt you less and you will be making decisions with your brain and not your stomach (or eyes).
3) Shop the sales and stock up
Depending on where you live and which supermarkets are in your area, there will be different sales available.
These supermarket sales are usually varied, happen at specific times of the year or week, and they may even offer discounts on stock at the end of the day.
Some also offer price reductions on products that are about to expire. I used to buy these from a health food supermarket for pennies on the dollar. We ate like kings then; the close-to-expiration products I bought where too expensive for our regular buys.
There are two rules for shopping the sales in supermarkets: first, go at the right times of the day, either first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Second, only get items that you can freeze or that have long a long shelf life.
Also, be aware of not over-spending just because an item is on sale; if you don’t need it, don’t buy it.
4) Take advantage of loyalty cards and coupons
Each supermarket will have their own version of loyalty cards that will either offer discounts on purchases or cash back once you have spent a certain amount. These cards are a must when trying to save on your weekly supermarket.
Loyalty cards usually work on a money-off basis, so when you spend $10 you will get $1 back to spend another day. Once you have saved up enough points you can then use them towards your weekly shop.
Coupons are a great way to save and stock on products. Some people have made a frugal artform from couponing, but be aware that it’s basically a part-time job (if not full-time).
If you don’t take couponing to an extreme, you can still save significant amounts of money by keeping an eye open for the right coupons. First, go through a couponing guide to learn all the good tricks. Then, check local papers, supermarket fliers and follow a couponing blog or site from your area or for your supermarket.
5) Look at local sources other than the supermarket
The convenience of quickly nipping to your local supermarket is obvious, but sometimes it isn’t the cheapest option.
If you want to include fresh fruit and vegetables into your meals, then consider heading to local farm shops and food cooperatives.
Not only can you be assured that your produce is fresh, but they are often cheaper (and tastier) than mainstream shops.
All in all, there are many ways we can save money when we go to the supermarket. Just remember the simple rule: buy only what you need!
How do you save money at the supermarket? Tell us your tips below!